The always-popular Leatrice (Lee) Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, returned to the keynote stage Tuesday, March 21, for a second session at the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show to share her insights on what colors are hot and which ones are not. She told the crowd there’s room for every color family in housewares, but different consumers may react differently based on age, mindset and lifestyle.
Owned and operated by the International Housewares Association, the Show was held March 18-21 at McCormick Place and featured more than 2,200 exhibitors and over 62,000 total attendees from 125 countries.
“What’s hot and what’s not in color used to be a very easy topic to engage,” Eiseman said as she began her presentation. “Years ago, I’d come to the Housewares Show to talk about one or maybe two colors that were the direction to go in. Now what we’re seeing is that there’s representation of every color family. Color is all about context.”
“If you feel you have an investment in a color and you know your sales are good in that range,” she continued, “the last thing you’d ever want to do is abandon a color family that works for you.” The key is finding the right tone to match current trends or combining it with other popular colors.
Further, many color rules are falling by the wayside thanks partly to the Millennial generation, which has a “sense of independence,” “a need to explore” and “a pervasive feeling of ‘I can’.” This may have contributed to the power-clashing trend, which is the deliberate mix of different prints, patterns and colors.
With that in mind, Eiseman walked the crowd through each color family and highlighted some of the latest trends within each family.
Pinks – “It may seem a strange place to start, but pink is very strong right now,” said Eiseman. The popular hues today are rosier or healthier pinks; “not bubble gum and little girls.” Think more sophisticated and less sweet, she said. Bold pinks that lean toward magenta or fuchsia are very dramatic and trending right now.
Reds – Poppy red has been very popular on the latest fashion runways, to which Eiseman added, “The mix of colors in general coming down the runways lately is very exciting.”
Oranges – Orange has been growing in popularity and in acceptance. Eiseman reminded the audience that orange comes from red and yellow, making red in particular “a little more friendly.” Orange is also widely associated with happiness and is especially popular right now in pet products. As for peach tones, “peach is rarely a color that is disliked,” she said. It has “a touchy-feeling quality” and is “sweet.”
Yellows – A happy color that is often associated with sunshine, yellow also has much more acceptance these days. Eiseman also pointed out that the widely-circulated assertion that the color yellow increases anxiety in the home is “utter nonsense.” This has never been proven, though she did point out that it may stimulate appetite so you might want to use it sparingly in kitchens. “Dirtier” or grayed-down yellows are most popular in U.S. homes, while mustardy or Dijon yellows (with green in them) add an exotic feel.
Greens – With Greenery being Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, there’s been much attention to the green family lately. Eiseman reiterated its health-giving properties and said, “green affords us the room to breathe.” Darker mossy greens draw us in to nature, and “it’s the really deeper mossy greens that are making headway in home interiors.” Emeralds remain popular especially as accent pieces, and “there’s little you can do wrong with turquoise or blue greens,” she said.
Blues – Blues remain popular and there’s strong usage of monochromatic themes here. Again, there’s little you do wrong with blues, said Eiseman, but the strongest hues right now are the very vibrant ones, such as cobalt.
Purples – Purples are “a little chancier,” she noted. Those with red undertones will gain more attention, while those with blue undertones will be more acceptable. You can’t go wrong with aubergine or the burgundies; “I call them the old chestnuts,” she said.
Mauves – Mauves kind of come and go, but they still have a presence especially in Euro-influenced palettes. “You may not have an affection for mauve,” said Eiseman, but it is regarded as a classic color in Europe and in Asia.
Neutrals – People ask Eiseman all the time if they should do cool or warm grays, and she maintained that either is fine. “Just don’t use them both together,” she said.
Black and White – Used independently or together, blacks and whites are “classic” and “don’t disappear.” An updated way to use black and white is in the popular power-clashing trend.
Metallics and Iridescents – “Metallics are the newest neutrals,” and dress up a whole look. Iridescents are “always attractive to the consumer eye,” she said.
Eiseman closed her keynote by highlighting some of the most trending color combinations: yellow and black; blue and orange; and peach with anything.